During his exclusive infomercial with Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel Tuesday night, Donald J. Trump, Jr., spoke more truth than he intended about the scandal mixing his father’s presidency with Russian espionage.
“The media has really done itself a disservice by picking sides so flagrantly,” the Little Don said.
He was referring to most of the legitimate news media, which is starting to catch up to young Trump’s lies and to those of his father, Donald J. Trump, Sr., the amateur President of the United States. Junior meant the media is persecuting his poor daddy.
But his words applied more accurately to Hannity, whose cloying Trumpist boosterism embarrasses even a shame-resistant propaganda factory humiliated in recent years by sex scandals.
In the Little Don’s equivalent of a Checkers Speech, he offered only boiler-plate talking points to explain why he met with a Russian lawyer last year in an attempt to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The sleaze, he thought, was piped to Trump Tower directly from the Kremlin. His meeting included Trump henchmen Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. It germinated from an email from a British-born publicist who is a friend of Junior and works in Russia in show business.
“There was some puffery to the email, perhaps, to get the meeting, to make it happen,” the Little Don said. “In the end, there was probably some bait and switch.” Looking back on his decisions, Junior admitted, “In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.”
The Little Don’s emails, released Tuesday by him under pressure from the New York Times, showed him eager and excited about colluding with Russia on campaign smears, something he and all Trumpists have denied for a year. The Big Don was elected Nov. 8 despite losing the popular vote.
Hannity asked Junior whether there were “sirens in your head” to warn him about scheduling such a sleazy meeting (although Hannity didn’t call it a sleazy meeting).
“I don’t even think my sirens went up or the antennas went up at this time,” the Little Don said.
Did you tell your father anything about this? Hannity wanted to know.
“No,” said Junior, who wore a pink shirt and a pink tie with little white polka-dots. “It was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell.”
Perhaps the Little Don will tell more when he puts his hand on a Bible and answers questions from Congress and others investigating the growing stain that soils the Trump White House.
Most regular Fox personalities are still following Hannity’s line of thinking, although without the fawning loyalty pledges to Trump and the unhinged attacks on the news media that Hannity launches nightly on his stale, recorded show. But even some Fox conservatives are grumbling.
One on Tuesday was Steve Hayes of The Weekly Standard, who said during Special Report in the 6 p.m. hour that American citizens now must reckon with the Trump team’s willingness to let a hostile foreign power dump dirt to rig an election.
“And we have to have a debate about whether that’s proper or not,” Hayes said.
Hayes called it “an incredible moment in our history” and noted that the story of the Little Don and his Russian pals changed every day for three straight days.
“Donald Trump, Jr., took the meeting with the intention of collaborating,” Hayes said. “That is the problem here.”
Hayes didn’t think much of the “ignorance of the law” defense and the “but he’s only a dumb kid” defense that some right-wingers are mounting for Junior.
“Being an amateur explains maybe why you take the meeting,” Hayes said. “You don’t have to be a professional to know what’s right and what’s wrong. That’s the problem here.”
In the following hour, at 7 p.m., Hannity appeared with Martha MacCallum to hype his 10 p.m. show and his taped interview with little “Mistah Trump.”
Hannity also rehearsed his smoke-blowing defense about how the Democrats collaborated with Ukraine on election research and how President Obama took sides in an election in Israel and how we can’t forget about Hillary’s email server and how the Little Don never got any real mud to sling from the Russians so there’s nothing to see here, lads, move along now, move along.
A more realistic assessment came shortly thereafter from Charles Krauthammer, the Fox intellectual who exhibits little patience for shrill shills like Hannity. Without using Hannity’s name, Krauthammer called Hannity’s defense “pathetic.”
“The denial of collusion is very weak right now,” Krauthammer said. “It’s a hell of a defense to say that your collusion was incompetent and that it didn’t work out. This is not just opposition research. This is a foreign power and not just any foreign power.”
Most important, Krauthammer pointed out, there is evidence now that the Trumpists have been lying.
“Here’s the deal,” Krauthammer said. “They denied they did this… They were saying for six months, `We didn’t do it. There is no evidence that we did it. How could you ever imagine that we did it?’”
Krauthammer—like a lot of conservatives and right-wingers—seemed chagrined over the dishonesty of the Trump gang after having defended them for months by saying there was no proof of collusion with Russian dirty tricks.
“Up until today, there was no there there,” Krauthammer said. “Well, now there is a there.”